Men With Brooms

on March 08, 2002 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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   One would hope that the most hyped Canadian film in years, and already one of the most successful (its opening weekend grossed a near-record C$1.04 million), would have some originality behind it. But there's just a mere sliver of wit propping up a lackluster attempt to marry "Rocky" and "The Full Monty" with the northern ice sport of curling.

   Actor Paul Gross (Canadian TV's “Due South”) conceived the film and convinced the financial powers that be to fund it, but he ought to have spent more time polishing the screenplay. It's pretty basic stuff, opening with an amusing shot of a group of beavers, Canada's national symbol, heading uphill to spawn, before segueing to the death of an old-timer, who mandates that his ashes be placed in one of the curling stones which is to be used by Chris Cutter (Paul Gross) and his team. The boys failed when they last attempted to win The Golden Broom curling championship, so Cutter assembles his old crew to try again, against formidable odds. Of course, that doesn't mean anything, as the underdogs in these types of movies always prevail. However, if you're going to embrace formula, it might help if you treat it with some verve and excitement. "Men with Brooms" is so half-hearted and lacking in conviction that one wonders why anyone bothered stitching this plot together. Even the potentially smart bits are botched, like making the "bad" team Americans from Butte, Montana (do Americans even curl?) instead of the more obvious choice of Toronto, which would have played off the small - town Ontario-versus-the-big-city rivalry that prevails in the province. There are some nice authentic bits, namely Molly Parker's skilful turn as David's alcoholic love interest, but Gross remains a bland presence and Leslie Nielsen, as his curmudgeon father, should have been utilized better.

   Curling may be a unique sport but Men with Brooms is distinctly ordinary.    Starring Paul Gross, Leslie Nielsen and Molly Parker. Directed by Paul Gross. Written by Paul Gross and John Krizanc. Produced by Robert Lantos. An Alliance Atlantis release. No U.S. distributor set. Not yet rated. Running time: 105 min.

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